3 Tips to Automate Your Business

A large part of running a successful business has to do with having great systems in place. Systems help you to automate, increase efficiency, and ultimately get away from your desk. (Because that drink is calling!)

Part of running companies in their first few months meant getting systems in place to make sure they were built for longevity. I wanted to make sure that as we grew, our infrastructure would too -- and I kept that at the forefront of business planning.

Now that we have a few people on Team Charissa, I'm not doing everything all the time. In fact, I rely on my staff for a lot during the week! Still, we use automation to free up their time, my time, and to be able to be really personal in our interactions with our clients. Curious to hear our tips for automating?

Automate invoices, accounting, and expenses

There are a lot of places I've mentioned this software, but it bears mentioning again. Harvest is what we use here to manage everything having to do with invoicing, paying, tracking staff time, reviewing timesheets, payroll, and even taxes. Their staff are amazing, and they have fast, helpful phone (and twitter) support, should you need it.

With Harvest, you'll never have to wonder how much time is being spent on a project. You can track it right from their URL, and then auto-bill the hours into an invoice, sent to your client on time. Just in case your client is late, they'll auto-add late fees (of your choosing) to the invoice. It's so easy.

Create a routine

This one sounds simple, but starting a business can be tough. You might be working a second job in addition to the business you're starting up -- which leaves you stressed about time, and being able to devote the attention you want to your dream work. Am I right? Of course.

So, creating a routine can help a lot. Use your calendar -- we’re huge proponents of Google Calendar. Set aside time to write, create content, interact on social media, and send out email campaigns. Get in a routine with how you spend your time, and then batch and chunk your momentum.

For example, being a contractor, you’re in charge of setting your own hours. (This is different than being an employee!) So if you want to be in on Fridays for a half-day, do it! It's so important to make sure you give yourself time to recharge, and taking the second half of Friday to do just that is a great method!

Other examples of routine for our team:

  • Staff bullet points posted by me in Asana every Monday morning

  • Blog Posting schedule -- I write every Wednesday, the post is edited and queued and proofed by Friday, and it goes live Monday at 8am.

  • Our editorial calendar is firmed up eight weeks in advance, at least

  • Social media posting is completed a week in advance, proofed on Friday, loaded on Friday, and goes out the entire next week.

I will always be a big fan of Buffer. (And rumor has it that they're sending me a shirt... so extra points for them!) They are pretty awesome people, their staff are attentive, and they have a really transparent business.

Buffer is a scheduling platform that allows me to queue up social media posts on a ton of networks. I use this every single day. Sure, I'll log into twitter and respond when someone mentions me, but scheduling updates keeps me focused on creating content, not on bite size updates, and pushing them live one at a time.

Buffer has team functionality, too -- so if you've got a small staff, or interns, you'll be able to have them log in and help you curate content, too.

Bonus: Onboarding new clients

I love onboarding. It's a passion of mine, and it's really fun to watch the effect on my clients here, after our onboarding process got tightened up. Onboarding is the process used to "walk new clients through" your company, your process, and your offerings. For example, many apps have a quick screen when you first launch them, that shows you how to operate the app, which buttons to push, and basic functionality. That's their onboard process!

Ours is really simple! New clients get an email from my waitlist, letting them know I’m open for clients. The email contains a day full of appointments where they can chat with me for a half-hour about their business, life, needs, and what’s stressing them out. It’s awesome, because they get to unload, and I get to tell them there’s light at the end of the tunnel. If we’re a fit, they get a contract, an invoice, and my delegation training, as well as a video on Asana, teaching them how to use our client framework. It’s smooth like butta’.

What systems could you put into place in order to help your business run more smoothly? Let's chat in the comments. (Because if you can't be honest here, where can you?)

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